The Tommy Awards Reviewers
The Reviewers for the 2013/14 Tommy Awards are:
Tara Ayres has been acting and singing since grade school, and directing and producing since college. She was StageQ's Artistic Director from 2005 to 2013. She served on the Bartell Theater Board of Directors for 7 years, including 2 years as its president. She was a radio host on WORT-FM for over 30 years, most recently of “Better Living Through Show Tunes.” She sings with the a cappella group, “The Murder Sisters.”
Gail Becker, has been a Cabaret Singer and Actress for over 20 years, including Voice-Over artist, she has been seen numerous times on stage across the country. Most recently, in Madison, she has performed with Four Seasons Theatre, Madison Opera, Forward Theatre, Savoyards, and Children's Theatre of Madison, and currently sings with the Wisconsin Chamber Choir. Gail freelances as a Musical Director and Musical Theatre instructor throughout Madison, and is a WSMA adjudicator. She also maintains her own private voice studio focusing on musical theatre and cabaret vocal techniques. Gail received a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Gretchen Bourg graduated with a BS in Art Education from UW-Stout in Menomonie, WI. She has danced corps and soloist roles in Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cinderella, and Peter Pan in addition to other Madison Ballet productions. Ms. Bourg is currently a faculty member and Registrar at the School of Madison Ballet. She is also Madison Ballet’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, conducting dance and movement workshops throughout the community.
Sam is a student at Carroll University majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Theatre and Spanish. He is a graduate of Beloit Turner High School where he performed the roles of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Sir Harry in Once Upon a Mattress, Elijah in Moby Dick! The Musical and various roles in the ensemble drama The Laramie Project. He is the recipient of a 2012 Tommy Award for Outstanding Lead Performer for his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and represented The Tommy Awards at the 2012 National High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City. Sam received many accolades for academic and sports achievements including 2012 Valedictorian of his graduating class, 1st place State Solo and Ensemble and Show Choir, 2012 Herb Kohl Excellence Scholarship, 2012 Wisconsin Scholar Athlete, 2012 Wendy's Heisman State Finalist and 2012 Turner High Drama EPSRIT Award as a lead actor.
Lindsay Christians is a full-time fine arts reporter for 77 Square, a weekly arts and entertainment publication produced by The Capital Times. There, her beat primarily covers theater, dance, opera, classical music and visual art. She received a Master of Arts in Theatre from UW-Madison in 2008. In 2009, she attended the O’Neill Theater Center National Critics Institute; in 2010, she went to Los Angeles for the NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater at USC-Annenberg. For the third year, she will lead the Overture Center Tommy Awards' Student Critics Program.
Terry Cremin is a native of Chicago, IL and has made his home in Madison, WI for the past thirty-even years. He retired from teaching after thirty three years with the Madison Public Schools. Long active in the Madison arts scene having acted with Broom Street Theater and Mercury Players, he also directed plays for LaFollette High School. He counts among his favorites, The Music Man, Anything Goes, The Boyfriend and Bye, Bye, Birdie. Currently he writes a blog featuring book and movie reviews.
Darrell Francis Dieringer
Darrell Francis Dieringer is an independent ballroom dance instructor and professional rhythm dance competitor based in Madison, WI. He teaches group classes and private lessons for everyone from casual dancers to amateur competitors. His unique approach borrows from other movement disciplines, emphasizing not the reproduction of steps, but the fluid, comfortable, and expressive creation of movement. Darrell especially enjoys helping people to unlock their own talents and seeing them discover greater confidence and elegance on the dance floor.
Laurie Fellenz is the Fine Arts Teacher Leader for the Madison Metropolitan School District. Prior to assuming this position, Laurie was an instrumental music educator for twenty years, most recently at Cherokee Heights Middle School in Madison. She received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from UW-Eau Claire and holds a Master of Science in Educational Administration degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Since she became involved with musical theatre during high school, Laurie has been in more than 30 pit orchestras as a musician and a conductor. She was the conductor for the Four Seasons Youth Theatre productions of Les Miserables, Once On This Island and Footloose. In addition, she has conducted twelve musicals for Madison Memorial High School since 1999.
Theresa Fosbinder has been involved in theater for over 12 years as a producer, stage manager, props designer and front of house operations manager. If you looked closely enough, you may also have seen her in a couple of brief on-stage appearances. She has worked extensively with Oregon Straw Hat Players and also with Four Seasons Theater, Sun Prairie Civic Theatre, Stoughton Village Players, Brown-Ullstrup Productions (Kenosha), Madison Theatre Guild/Bartell Theatre, CTM, Verona Area Community Theatre, Music Theatre of Madison, Oregon High School, and LaFollette High School. For the past 25 years, Theresa’s day job has involved working with public programs for the low income population – that’s “what you do with a BA in English”! She is currently the Patient Services Project Director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin.
Leslie Frank-Taylor made her stage debut at the age of 5 at Timber Lake Playhouse, the theatre her father and friends started in Illinois, in 1962. She brings a wide range of professional experiences to her creative work. She has provided costume design, makeup design, wardrobe support, wigs, set painting and other creative support to professional tours such as Wicked, Billy Elliot, The Lion King & Cats, to local productions by Madison Opera, Madison Ballet, CTM, Four Seasons Theatre, Forward Theater, Savoyards, as well as many community and school productions. She has also performed with Ken Lonnquist and the Whateverlys, and the Kenland Players. She is one of the founding members of Madison’s Isthmus Vocal Ensemble. Leslie really looks forward to seeing all the great talent our Wisconsin students have to offer over the coming months!
Mark Frohna is a professional performing arts photographer based in Milwaukee. In 1998, he started a business to help high schools promote their musicals. He wrote press releases, designed posters and created professional playbills to better reflect the professionalism so many audiences witnessed on stage. Ultimately, with the advent of digital photography and affordable printing, Mark took the idea of a Broadway souvenir program and created the high school musical souvenir book, each containing more than 100 photos of a given musical. In 2003, his business expanded to serve professional arts groups. To date, Mark has photographed more than 600 plays, musicals, operas and dance performances for such clients as the Milwaukee Ballet, First Stage Children's Theater, Skylight Music Theatre, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee Chamber Theater and dozens more professional, school and community-based arts organizations. He has been involved as photographer for the Tommy Awards since its inception. Mark holds a BA in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where his first interest was in educational theater.
Ray Gargano is currently the Director of Programming and Community Engagement at Overture Center for the Arts. He comes to Madison from Dayton, Ohio where he was the Director of Education & Engagement at the Victoria Theatre Association. Prior to Dayton, Ray was the Director of the Orange County Arts Education Center, a public private partnership organization with a mission to ensure equitable and quality arts education experiences for all citizens of Orange County, Florida, and was the Assistant Director of Community Engagement and Education at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio. He taught high school English, theatre and journalism and was an adjunct instructor at Notre Dame College, the University of Akron, and Miami University of Ohio, teaching education and technology integration, public speaking and arts management. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Communications in Education at Kent State University and his Master’s in Instructional Technology at the University of Akron.
Liz Griffith has worked as an actress throughout the United States and Europe. Liz's credits include: The pre-Broadway engagement, Carnegie Hall concert and West End run of Kristina (featuring Alice Ripley and musically directed by Paul Gemigniani), Fine and Dandy (directed by Book of Mormon director Casey Nicholaw), Showboat at Carnegie Hall, Pump Up The Volume, The Marvelous Wonderettes, Cats, It's A Wonderful Life, Shout!, Evita, Oklahoma!, Annie, Nevermore, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Aida. She has worked with The Depot Theatre, Gateway Playhouse, Meadowbrook Theatre, The Arkansas Rep, The Encore Musical Theatre Company, The Airport Playhouse and Music Theatre of Madison. She appears on the cast recordings of Kristina and Life Begins at 8:40 and earned a BFA in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan. In addition to her performing work, Liz is also a co-founder and instructor at Madison's Center Stage Performing Arts.
Emily Gruenewald received a BA in Theatre Arts with an acting emphasis from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. For the past decade she worked in arts administration holding positions with Children's Theatre of Madison, Madison Youth Choirs, and Janesville Performing Arts Center. Recently she left arts administration to work in higher education, but her commitment to the arts remains fervent as she currently serves as a board member of Janesville Presents!, an organization that produces a series of professional arts events in Janesville, and as a frequent volunteer in Rock County.
Heather Harris fell in love with the stage while growing up in Mineral Point, where she acted in H.S. musicals and community theater productions. She went on to get her BA Acting Specialist and English Literature degrees at UW-Madison, then moved to London and got her MA in Arts Criticism & Management at City University in the Barbican Centre. On the West Coast, Heather was a theater critic for The Tablet, and worked in various capacities for ACT Theatre of Seattle, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Opera, Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara and Rubicon Theatre Company of Ventura. Locally she has acted or directed for CTM, University Theatre, The Winter Project, First Banana Productions, Alley Stage, River Valley Players and Shake Rag Players. Heather loves her current occupations as Overture Center’s Group Sales Manager and Residency Coordinator for Shake Rag Alley Center for Arts and Crafts in Mineral Point, where she coordinates a writing residency program in partnership with Council for Wisconsin Writers and Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Heather is also the Staging Coordinator for the annual Tommy Awards, a most rewarding and heartwarming duty!
Born and raised in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Jason began playing violin at the age of 5. After graduating from the University of Miami with a degree in Music Education, Jason joined the cast of Barrage, the internationally-touring, high-octane alternative violin theatrical show. During his four years with Barrage, Jason was elected to the position of Performers' Representative, and, in this capacity, was responsible for all of the communication and contract negotiation between the cast, management, and the American Federation of Musicians. Following his time in Barrage, Jason earned a dual MA/MBA in Arts Administration from the University of Cincinnati while concurrently managing two concert series at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College. Jason is now the Programming and Community Engagement Coordinator at Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, WI, where he is responsible for a variety of tasks within the Programming Department including season development, artist contracts and relations, and production and management of Overture’s MadCity Sessions. Jason was selected as one of twenty-five participants for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters’ Emerging Leadership Institute 2013, and was also a recipient of the 2013 Arts Midwest Conference Presenter Scholarship.
Shannon Lobdell is currently the project manager for Wisconsin Public Television’s (WPT) Young Performers Initiative to celebrate Wisconsin’s young performers and those who inspire them. Ms. Lobdell comes to WPT from the Madison Symphony Orchestra (MSO), where she assisted in developing and managing MSO education and community engagement programs. Her work with the MSO culminated with her co-authorship of HeartStrings: A Guide to Music Therapy-Informed Community Engagement for Symphony Orchestras, with over 200 copies currently disseminated to arts organizations in the United States, Europe and Australia. A pianist and soprano by training, Ms. Lobdell received her B.M. in Music Education from Bucknell University as an Arts Merit Scholar and winner of the Bucknell Prize in Music.
Marguerite Luksik is a native of Johnstown, PA. She trained with the Allegheny Ballet Academy under Deborah Anthony and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Graduate Program as well as summer programs with Boston Ballet and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. In June 2002, Ms. Luksik participated in an exhibition performance at the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. Marguerite currently performs with Madison Ballet, and is on faculty with Madison Ballet School. She has also danced professionally with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Chicago Ballet, and Peoria Ballet. She has performed works by choreographers such as Steven Mills, Stanton Welch, Ben Stevenson, Terrence Orr, Thaddeus Davis, and Paul Gibson. Some of her favorite roles include First Violin in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Sugar Plum Fairy in Earle Smith’s The Nutcracker, Puck in Peter Anastos’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Spring Fairy in Earle Smith’s Cinderella.
Terry Kerr is an actress, director, educator and arts administrator, and is currently Director of Education at CTM. An inaugural member of the acting company at American Players Theatre, she has performed the work of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Ibsen, Moliere, and Marlow. Terry taught and performed with the Wisconsin Mime Company, voiced roles for education radio, and performed with area theaters. A faculty member at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Terry teaches acting, Shakespeare and presentation skills, and has directed over 20 productions.
Elizabeth Magargal is an elementary music teacher in the Madison Metropolitan School District, teaching K-5 general music. Elizabeth comes to the Madison area from the east coast, having grown up on Long Island. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching, both from Westminster Choir College of Rider University. While at Westminster Elizabeth performed as part of the world-renowned Westminster Symphonic Choir with many of the greatest orchestras in the world, including the New York Philharmonic, the Staatskapelle Berlin, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. An experienced soloist as well as chorister, Elizabeth has sung principal roles in a number of concert presentations of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in New York City and has performed musical theater throughout the Tri-State area.
Tenor Shane Magargal is an award-winning actor and singer with a passion for musical theater. A native of the Philadelphia area, Shane holds both a BM in Voice Performance and an MM in Voice Pedagogy and Performance from Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. While he has performed professionally in musical theater, operetta and opera with such companies as The Ohio Light Opera and The Princeton Festival, Shane has established himself as a specialist in the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Emerging as a noted interpreter of the principal tenor roles of the G&S canon, he has entertained audiences on two continents. Since joining the Madison musical scene, Shane has been seen on stage with Fresco Opera and The Madison Savoyards, where he also serves on the Board of Directors.
Sarah works with a variety of arts organizations in the Madison Area. She serves as Managing Director for Four Seasons Theatre, General Manager for Forward Theater and Production Manager for the UW Varsity Band Spring Concert. She is the 2008 recipient of the Bartell Award for Excellence in the Arts. She holds an MBA degree in Business from the Bolz Center for Arts Administration, an MS degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from UW-Madison. She is the Program Director for various program within the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies. Sarah maintains a private music studio and has taught in both the Middleton-Cross Plains and Madison Metropolitan School Districts.
Jeannie McCarville has been involved with River Valley Players, a community theater group in Spring Green, in various roles since 1999. Since joining RVP, she has also directed and assisted with many of the River Valley High School musicals. Jeannie is in her fifth season at American Players Theatre where she is currently the house manager of Touchstone Theatre, APT's newest venue.
Catie O'Donnell professionally freelances throughout the Midwest as a theater director, assistant director, producer and educator. Notable professional accomplishments include: Director for Forward Theater in Madison, Wis. (Numerous Monologue Festivals), associate artistic director for Musical Theater of Madison (Nevermore, Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, John & Jen), Milwaukee Chamber Theater in Milwaukee, Wis (Young Playwrites Festival), Quantum Productions in Miami, Fla. (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Little Shop of Horrors), The World's Stage in Milwaukee, Wis (The Unseen), Alley Stage in Mineral Point, Wis (The Arsonists), producer for Quantum Productions in Miami, Fla (various productions in both film and theater), assistant director for Skylight Opera in Milwaukee (Marriage of Figaro), Forward Theater in Madison (In the Next Room or the vibrator play) and Chamber Theater in Milwaukee (The Sweetest Swing in Baseball) and directing intern for The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN (Roman Holiday). Upcoming productions include assistant directing with Renaissance Theaterworks in Milwaukee, Wis (The Belle of Amhurst) and directing Hostage Song with Music Theater of Madison. She was also a participant in Directors Lab Chicago, a week long intensive workshop for directors from around the world this past summer. She is the co-founder and owner of Center Stage Preforming Arts, a private voice and theater coaching company in Madison Wis. Catie holds a BA in theater and music from the University of Miami, FL.
Tim Sauers is Vice President of Programming & Community Engagement at Overture Center for the Arts. Tim also served for thirteen years as Program Director at Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education in Chicago. He was responsible for the research, planning, development, marketing and selling of school and community based programs reaching over 350,000 participants annually. He received his BA in Communication and Theatre Arts from Susquehanna University and holds Master of Arts degrees in Theatre Direction from Michigan State University and in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College Chicago. For eleven years he was a freelance theatre critic for Gernhardt Publications and is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association. Tim has worked with organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Nevada Arts Council, the Chicago Park District, Project Exploration and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in program development, grant development and review, and conducting workshops and presentations.
Lynda Sharpe is an award-winning director and educator who has directed over 200 musicals and plays for university, community and high school theaters. Most recently she directed pieces in Forward Theater’s Monologue Festival, Children’s Theater Madison’s Young Playwright’s Festival and CTM’s summer drama program. Lynda’s direction has been seen off-Broadway, at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the state. She is the 2009 recipient of AATE’s national award for her work with high school musicals and plays. Lynda is an actress performing earlier this year in Good Night Moon (CTM), and Miracle on 34th Street (SSE). Lynda is active in new play development and was honored to direct a UK premiere. She presented at a national theater convention August 2011. Lynda has a Master of Arts degree in Theater from the University of Minnesota.
J. Peter Shaw
J. Peter Shaw has been active as an actor for many years with several theatre groups throughout southern Wisconsin. He spent his thirty year educator career at Evansville High School as a speech teacher, drama director, guidance counselor and administrator. J. Peter then became the Executive Director of the Wisconsin High School Forensic Association where he co-developed the Wisconsin High School Theatre Festival.
J. Peter lives in Evansville with his wife, Roberta.